If I'm being really honest here, the first thing I think of when I think of a city, is what the food scene is going to be like there. I tend to structure everything else around my meal times, because I'm pretty into food, and I'm also pretty grumpy when I'm not fed regularly. And, I'm not exactly the "oh, let's just stumble into something" kind of girl when it comes to food either. I put thought into this well ahead of time, y'all. I'm on Trip Advisor and Yelp and everything else. So, after numerous attempts to find our food spots in Victoria, here are the two that I'm most thrilled about seeing again when we make that landing into the harbor.
The Bard and Banker
This fabulous pub is right in the middle of everything in downtown Victoria, only a few blocks from the Fairmont Empress and the waterfront. Beautifully decorated, warm, and inviting, you feel like you've stepped right into something historic and wonderful at first glance. The pub is Scottish style and serves up good whiskey and brews, along with a happy atmosphere and fun waitstaff. Each time we've dined there, we've enjoyed the experience with our servers, who have each been helpful and enthusiastic. My favorite meal is The Bard Burger, and I feel like I have the most magical experience every time I get to savor that big slice of Heaven. For Trent, the Halibut & Chips is the dish of choice, and whether ale battered or potato chip crusted, you can't really go wrong. And for dessert, you should consider the Sticky Toffee Pudding because really how many times do you find that on the menu, and it is delectable. Toffee Pudding with Caramel Praline Ice Cream and Butterscotch Sauce? Yes, that'll do. Now, let's talk history. This building was originally opened in 1885 as the Bank of British Columbia and operated as a bank (though owned by different banking establishments) until 1988. As a literature enthusiast myself, I was thrilled once I realized that this restaurant's persona was inspired by Robert Service, both the bard and banker inspiration here. After leaving Scotland for the adventure of the West, Service stationed himself for awhile in Victoria, giving the banking profession another try and writing as he could. We all know he eventually moved to the Yukon, where he became the Bard of the Yukon, but how fascinating to know that he worked (and slept) in that very building! All in all, this restaurant has great food, a fun atmosphere, and fascinating history, so give this place a go and let us know about your experience!
Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub
With a tagline of, "Let no body thirst for the taste of a real ale," I knew I had found my kindred spirits in this establishment. This little beauty is a short distance from the more touristy downtown section of Victoria, as you'll cross the Johnson Street Bridge to sit opposite the harbor, directly across from Fisherman's Wharf. Trent and I walked the distance our first time visiting the pub, and found it an easy walk and an easy distance from our hotel; however, we've also driven to it on our way out of town, for which they have ample parking. One of my favorite characteristics of this pub is how light and open it is. Once you walk into the main dining area (passing the small area where they sell fantastic little chocolates, little devils) there are windows all along the far wall, opening to the lovely harbor. It gives the space a feeling of openness, allowing for a good view even when it's a little too chilly or rainy for the outdoor seating area. The Brewers Breakfast is our breakfast item of choice, featuring "Two fried eggs, Hertel bacon, Nut Brown Ale pork banger, pan fried potatoes, house made scone, & beer jelly." And, my experience there is never complete without their superb London Fog. I'm an absolute fool for these, and they do it up just right, complete with almond milk for my dairy allergy suffering self. For later in the day options, we've sampled their burger, salmon sandwich, and fish and chips, all of which were delightful experiences. But, to be honest, we somehow always magically appear here at breakfast time, ordering the Brewers Breakfast ;) Whether you're looking for a full breakfast, a good beer, a nice view, or a quaint place away from the central tourist area, Spinnakers will make a great addition to your Victoria itinerary.